Watford vs Cardiff City
Venue: Vicarage Road
Referee: Andy Madley
Cardiff City travel to Watford on Saturday where they will attempt to draw closer to their opponents and further from the relegation zone.
Watford had a bittersweet game last time out against Everton; after coming back impressively from a 1-0 deficit, only to concede a last-minute equalizer against the Toffee’s in a 2-2 draw. The result meant that Javi Gracia’s men are winless in their last six Premier League encounters, and their last victory came way back in October against Huddersfield. The Hornets beat Spurs in September to clinch their fourth consecutive win to start the season yet since then they have won just two out of their last 13 in all competitions.
Contrastingly, Cardiff have enjoyed an upturn in fortunes recently. They defeated Southampton 1-0 in Wales last time out courtesy of a Callum Paterson goal, which was their third consecutive home win. The away form for Neil Warnock has been a worry though with the Bluebirds just claiming one point on their travels all season. Despite that, their confidence is on the up, and expect them to give a fight against this Watford side.
The home side will be desperate to get back to winning ways and lift themselves in the table. They are still a comfortable 11 points clear of the bottom three, but the situation is not as rosy for the visitors. Cardiff’s recent form has pulled them four points clear of the bottom three and Warnock will be hopeful of increasing that gap on Saturday.
Midfielder Etienne Capoue is still sidelined for the Hornets and will be missing for Saturday’s fixture. But deputy Domingos Quina impressed against Everton and he will be hopeful of retaining the starting berth. Along with Capoue, Daryl Janmaat and Tom Cleverley will play no part as they continue to recover from injuries.
Will Hughes could make his return from a hip injury which he picked up in the game against Manchester City. Andre Gray is a doubt for the game as well, so Isaac Success could start alongside Troy Deeney. Then again, so could the Spaniard Gerard Deulofeu.
Gracia’s starting XI was fixed in the early months, but injuries have forced him to tinker recently. The likes of Ken Sema and Adam Masina are pushing for a start too and his midfield and forward selection is anyone’s guess at this juncture.
The two strikers for Cardiff, Danny Ward and Kenneth Zohore have been out for a while and Ward’s return is some time away. But Zohore could make his return this weekend which would lessen the load on Paterson’s shoulders.
Greg Cunningham and Jazz Richards will be sidelined, as they continue to recover from long-term problems. But their defence is pretty settled, and the lineup changes will occur most likely in midfield.
The likes of Nathaniel Mendez-Laing, Kadeem Harris, Junior Hoilett, Josh Murphy and Bobby Reid are competing for two spots, which could become one if Joe Ralls makes his return to the lineup. Paterson will be assured of a start though, as Warnock will hope that his good run continues.
Predicted Starting XIs
Watford (4-4-2): Foster; Femenia, Kabasele, Cathcart, Holebas; Deulofeu, Doucoure, Quina, Pereyra; Deeney, Success.
Cardiff (4-4-1-1): Etheridge; Manga, Morrison, Bamba, Bennett; Hoilett, Gunnarsson, Arter, Murphy; Camarasa; Paterson.
Score Prediction: Watford 2 Cardiff City 1
Despite their poor run, the quality of Watford’s players should carry them through to the three points. Expect Cardiff to make it difficult for the Hornets, though.